The Indian elephant is a sub-species of Asian elephant which includes the Indian elephant, the Sumatran elephant, the Sri-Lanka elephant and the Borneo elephant. The Indian elephant is the most widely distributed of the four Asian elephant sub-species.
The Indian elephant is found throughout south-east Asia including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Laos, Peninsular Malaysia, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam, and although spread out, the wild Indian elephant population is thought to be around just 20,000 individuals.
Indian elephants have been domesticated for hundreds of years for foresting and often battle. There are many places across south-east Asia where Indian elephants are kept for tourists to ride, and are often treated fairly badly. All Asian elephants are well known for their immense strength and friendliness towards humans.
The Indian elephant has smaller ears than the African elephant and the Indian elephant also has a more curved spine than the African elephant. Unlike the African elephants, the female Indian elephants very rarely have tusks, and if the female Indian elephant does have tusks, they are generally barely visible and can only be seen when the female Indian elephant opens her mouth.
The Indian elephant follows strict migration routes that are determined by the monsoon season. The eldest elephant of the Indian elephant herd is responsible for remembering the migration route of its Indian elephant herd. This Indian elephant migration generally takes place between the wet and dry seasons and problems arose when farms where built along the migratory routes of the Indian elephant herds, as the Indian elephants caused a great deal of destruction to the newly founded farmland.
Indian elephants are herbivorous animals meaning that they only eat plants and plant matter in order to gain all of the nutrients that they need to survive. Indian elephants eat a wide variety of vegetation including grasses, leaves, shoots, barks, fruits, nuts and seeds. Indian elephants often use their long trunk to assist them in gathering food.
Due to their large size, Indian elephants have very few predators within their natural environment. Besides human hunters, tigers are the primary predator of the Indian elephant, although they tend to hunt the smaller Indian elephant calves rather than the much larger and stronger adults.
Female Indian elephants are generally able to breed by the time they are 10 years old, and give birth to a single Indian elephant calf after a 22 month gestation period. When the Indian elephant calf is first born, it weighs about 100 kg, and is cared for not only by it's mother by also by other female Indian elephants in the herd (known as aunties). The infant Indian elephant remains with its mother until it is around 5 years old and gains its independence, with males often leaving the herd and female calves staying.
Today, the Indian elephant is considered to be an animal that is in immediate danger of becoming extinct due to the fact that Indian elephant populations have been declining at a critical rate. Indian elephants are thought to be suffering primarily due to habitat loss in the form of deforestation and hunting for their ivory tusks by human poachers.